What are the symptoms of facet disease?

Facet disease, also called facet arthritis or facet joint syndrome, is the gradual deterioration of the cartilage surrounding the facet joints of the spine. There is a facet joint on either side of each vertebra; these joints allow the vertebrae to articulate and hinge freely, giving the entire spinal column its ability to bend and rotate. Facet joints are surrounded by cartilage and a sac of synovial fluid that keeps the joint lubricated. Gradually, the aging process, in addition to factors like obesity, gender, genetics and disease, causes this cartilage to degenerate, which can lead to a variety of facet-related issues.

Facet disease and osteophyte formation

As facet disease causes the joint cartilage to wear away and adjacent vertebral bones begin to grind against each other, osteophytes, or bone spurs, may develop. Bone spurs, which can develop in the joint space or along the endplates of the vertebral bodies, are extra growths of bone that can come into contact with nearby spinal nerves or the spinal cord itself. If this occurs, the following symptoms may present:

  • Joint stiffness or spontaneous joint lockage
  • The painful sensation of bone rubbing against bone, also called crepitus
  • Reduced range of motion
  • Inflammation of the joint
  • Pain, tingling, or numbness caused by neural compression

Can facet disease be treated?

While there is no cure for facet disease, nor can its effects be reversed, many patients find that they can manage their symptoms non-surgically with conservative treatments. These might include yoga, massage, physical therapy, pain medication, behavior modification, hot/cold compresses and intermittent rest. However, if your discomfort does not abate after weeks or months of these conservative treatments, contact Laser Spine Institute. Our effective outpatient procedures utilize the latest minimally invasive technology. Request your MRI or CT scan review today.